HE hardly grants interviews. But on this Wednesday, there was no hiding place for the inimitable Edo State- born actor, producer and director, Charles Inojie, who is highly respected by colleagues and fans for his ability to function well in different aspect of the theatre, a reason some of his admirers describe him as a ‘jack of all trade and master of the theatre’. The self confessed ‘all- season and all weather’ Chelsea fan spoke to Moviedom about his career ambition and life…
I owe Lancelot Imaseun
It was Lancelot’s open-mindedness and magnanimity that gave me my break. He told me come over to Enugu where he was doing a shoot when I asked him if I could come and do some work with him. When I got there, Lancelot called me aside and said that it would be difficult to convince the Executive Producer that he wanted an assistant director since I am not known, so we are going to do this through the back door. When I am shooting one scene, I will ask you to rehearse the next scene. So, before we knew what was happening, I had drawn so much attention and a huge crowd to the spot where I was conducting the rehearsals. Even though I was not officially contracted, the Executive Producer, Louis Merchandise, later gave me N10,000. It was a lot of money then. I was even thinking that since they never had me on their list, they were going to ask me to pay for learning one or two things on their set. I always like to give Lancelot a lot of the credit. Because it is one thing to have talent, it is another to have the opportunity to express it. Launching into directing from school was principally the making of God using Lancelot.
I am a homeboy
I grew up in a village called Uhoada, but I’m from Urowa. My grand mum was a very strong Christian. She was of Assemblies of God Church and so you could understand the kind of setting I found myself in. A lot of the things that I do today are informed by the upbringing that I had. For instance I have never held a stick of cigarette in my life. I am very proud of it except that grand ma didn’t live long to see what her small boy has transformed into. As for schools, I am an old boy of Eguari Primary School and Uhoada Mixed Secondary School, both in Uhoada, in present day Esan South Local Council of Edo State. I also attended University of Port Harcourt where I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree.
I get applauded more as an actor
It is ironical because I have done more jobs as a director than I have as an actor. But I get commendations everywhere I go because of my exploits as an actor. I normally will pick up roles of actors who do not show up. Over time, those one scene today, another tomorrow, began to add up and stick. It got people to start asking question. That was how I was discovered as an actor. As for memorable works, it realy depends. I will pick them either because of the way we are able to cut corners to still get out something in spite of the huge challenges that we had. So, a lot will come together to define memorable. But I think I like Caught in the Act, Sound of Love and a couple of other movies. As an actor, one will think that I have never acted before because of the kind of ovation and reaction that I have had since I did Corporate Maid. But I don’t even think that is my best, but I tell you the film has given me so much applause. Because of that I will give it to the film’.
I like to be around intelligent and happy people
May be because I am a very happy person, I like people who are convivial in nature. I like very intelligent people and I like people who read a lot. I don’t like dull people and people who do not know what time it is. Everybody cannot be in this business. If you no fit act, you no fit act?
Lack of professionalism is one of the banes of Nollywood
My training informs me that the director determines the ultimate direction of any dramatic piece. I was told in school that when a director asks an actor to jump, the actor merely ask how high sir. But it is unfortunate that today so many of our actors are in competition with the director without knowing it. From experience, I have realised that there are some actors who want to interpret a role the way they like, and that is usually not the case. There is also a huge problem posed by some of our producers who either want to cut corners or want the film delivered at his own time… each time you find yourself working like that, something has left the movie. So, producers should be much more concerned about helping the director to achieve his dream. When the movie fails, it becomes the director’s problem. When it succeeds, the producers are all over the place taking the credits.
Rewarding? Well it could be better
I think it has been rewarding, but life could be a lot better. I don’t beg to eat. I get so many things I never knew I could have, sometimes free. I meet people and at the word go, they are ready to help. I think it has been very rewarding.
I love good music
I spend my off screen period reading and listening to good music. I like the brand of reggae that the late Lucky Dube played. Lately too, I have fallen for the lyrics of Asa. I also like to hear and dance to certain tracks of D’banj like ‘Make me fall in love’. If I hear that track even in my dream, I will get up and dance. I’m not so much a food person. But you can catch me stealing beans and plantain. As for my role models, I will say the late Ken Saro-Wiwa. Then there is Don Kester Osaraime who is now a reverend and Osa Enis. These two guys inspired me so much that I will not be ashamed to call them my role models.
I want to put marriage behind me
There are so many things a man would have loved to put behind hind him early enough and he finds out that even much later in life, he still has not achieved that and I think marriage is one of those things. Not because I do not have the means to get married. I almost was there until everything crash landed at the dying meeting. But one is recovering and recovering very fast from that and I can assure you that it is something that I want to get behind me.
I desire to be first among equals
I want to be known as one of ‘Nollywood avant-gardist filmmakers who will be recognized both at home and abroad and who would not be shy to break conventions. I think the time has come for us to up our game. I see myself in the next future being in the forefront of those who would like to try something new. Doing it the same way is one of the reason we are where we are. I would like to see myself joining a vanguard, a group of intelligent filmmakers who will in a short while not only make Nigeria’s name resonate as the third largest producer of movies but would take our films to some of the big film festivals in the world and win laurels for this great country.